McCoy Tyner: McCoy Tyner Plays John Coltrane

On Sept. 23, 1997, which would have been John Coltrane’s 71st birthday, McCoy Tyner took the stage at the Village Vanguard with bassist George Mraz and drummer Al Foster. Four years later, we have the results: McCoy Tyner Plays John Coltrane (Impulse 3134 589 183-2; 66:28), which documents a brilliant evening of music. Tyner’s playing has evolved considerably over his career, but is still very much in the moment: his vocabulary includes a greater number of rich chords these days, as well as the probing fourths and fifths that open up spaces for hard-edged, sleeting runs in the upper reaches of the keyboard, as on the anthemic “Afro Blue.” Mraz and Foster are simply perfect, with the former proving himself over and over one of the most thoughtful bass soloists of his time, sometimes ending a phrase with a bebop lick that seems a sort of nod to his forebears; the rousing “Mr.Day” holds incontrovertible evidence.